The Carson van Straaten Gallery (760 Santa Fe Drive, 303-573-8585, www.vanstraatengallery.com) is currently showcasing a paean to nature in the form of a strong solo, New Works by Lorey Hobbs, installed in the front spaces, and a handsome duet, Colorado Abstract: Homare Ikeda & Lorelei Schott, in the back.
Hobbs, a hidden gem of a talent, is represented by more than a dozen handsome pieces. Her paintings are covered with thick layers of pigment that rise off the surface dramatically. There's a relationship between this technique and that of one of her mentors, Kay Miller, an important Boulder artist. Formally, Hobbs's acrylic-on-canvas creations appear to be completely abstract, but subtly, certain shapes emerge that evoke images of natural things. Another striking feature is her idiosyncratic sense for color, which juxtaposes deep and moody shades with bright, sometimes garish ones. I absolutely love these paintings.
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Hobbs's drawings, collages and mixed-media pieces are somewhat different; in them, she assembles a crowded cast of shapes and colors, with this compositional density being a corollary to the thick application of pigments on her paintings. A good example is "Monkey Wrench #4" (detail pictured), done with graphite, acrylic, pastels and cut-up collage elements laid on Stonehenge watercolor paper.
New Works by Lorey Hobbs
Aesthetically and formally, Homare Ikeda's paintings relate beautifully to those by Hobbs. Ikeda's work is seemingly non-objective, yet shapes also appear here that suggest things found in nature. Also like Hobbs, he juxtaposes colors that are downright unlikely, with hot and cool shades colliding with one another. Schott's pieces are much more subtle, with earthy shades that are virtually ghost-like; these provide a ground from which more emphatically expressed pictorial elements — typically inspired by flowers — emerge. This is perfectly consistent with her method, which involves burying the canvases in her garden so that they absorb the tints of the soil before she finishes them off with the painted details. Both shows close February 14.